Experience Design : Egyptian Tomb Puzzle



Development Duration : 2 weeks


Platform : Egyptian themes tomb walls with phidget sensors on hieroglyphs




Software Used : Unity


The Project : It a Location Based Experience in which an NPC takes the help of the guest to solve a puzzle. Our experience was 3-fold, with each part having a set of puzzles for the guest to solve and complete the task. The entire experience is about a family feud between the 3 Egyptian Gods: Osiris, Set and Horus.


Part1 : NPC accidently wakes Set, God of war and chaos from his slumber who then tricks the guest and NPC into locking his rival brother, Osiris, into a chest.


Part2 : Isis, Osiris’ consort, guides the guest and NPC to release Osiris from the chest.


Part3 : After the birth of Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris, the guest must choose between the God of war, Set and God of Kingship, Horus and lock one of them in the chest forever.


PUZZLE DESIGN :


Since the phidget sensors were limited and mostly fixed, we had to use the existing hieroglyphs and work them into the puzzle. I was responsible for the puzzle design for part 1.

In this part, Set would be giving instructions to the guest about which hieroglyphs to touch. The puzzle has 2 phases:

The first 3 hieroglyphs are used to “prepare” the chest for Osiris. These are touch sensors on the right wall.

Since there are multiple hieroglyphs of the same kind, the clues also indicate the hieroglyph adjacent to the sensor one. For eg: A river flows beneath a pyramid, Trace its course with your mortal fingers.




The next 3 hieroglyphs are magnet sensors which need a magnetic scarab to activate them.




The clues are framed in a similar way as the previous one.

For eg: Touch the scarab to the reed left by the fowl, which indicates a reed next to a bird. This will lock the reed scarab on the chest.



To aid the guest, we had the NPC equipped with a hieroglyph guide which they can use to match to the correct hieroglyphs.




The part 1 of the experience is supposed to teach the guest certain mechanics of the puzzle and how to lock the chest, as it is used in the other parts of the experience. We found that the guests easily understood the clues and found the guide very useful. They also learnt the mechanism of locking/unlocking the chest. At any point if the guests were confused, the NPC would help them get closer to the answer.




EXPERIENCE DESIGN :


The experience begins with the NPC desperately seeking the guests help immediately making them intrigued and excited. The NPC acts confused and lost hoping to entice the guest into believing they are needed.

Since the experience had 3 parts with 3 distinct stories, the all had to be connected well.

Part1 was designed to trick the guest. We used the NPC’s cluelessness to get the guest to perform the tasks, so they feel that they are responsible for locking up the God and unleashing Chaos. This part is also used to teach the guest how the tomb works and is more instructive in nature.




Part 2 is about letting the guest make amends for what they did. Since the guest understands the mechanics, there is a new layer of working together with the NPC to solve the clues. This is to add variation to the experience and keep the interest curve up.




Part 3 is more about making an important decision. There very little instruction as the guest has learnt from the previous parts and it focusses more on the choice between the 2 Gods. Every step is dramatized and provides feedback to the guest.




In the end the experience reacts according to the guests’ choice and the NPC makes them aware of the consequences of their actions, whether good or bad. Hoping that the guest makes an unbiased choice the dialogue remains neutral towards the 2 Gods.




Lighting was a big part of the experience and the most enjoyable for me. It is not only used to guide the guest attention but also to indicate the presence of a God and the tone of the situation. Each part had a theme/emotion associated with it and the lighting reflected that.

Since there were multiple people working on lighting and design, we had to have a standard format for the puzzles and lighting. Every part had one puzzle related the story and one to lock/unlock the chest. This allowed us to maintain a uniformity in the experience.

Feedback : At every point we had audio and visual feedback to indicate success.

In part 1 with each hieroglyph, one part of the chest comes into view.



When 2 Gods converse, we used the sarcophagi to represent each one and used lighting to indicate which God is speaking. This proved quite effective and the guests found it very enjoyable to watch the Gods arguing.




Lighting was also used to represent movement of the gods and their presence.




The NPC was instrumental in furthering the tone of the situation and helping the guest immerse themselves into the experience. Between every part there is a small period of buffer time that the NPC uses to assess the situation and prepare the guest for the next phase.

The biggest challenge was balancing the ratio of puzzle to story but since the story was interesting enough, the guests enjoyed it.


PROGRAMMING :


I was the programmer for part 1 and it was mostly about the timing and pacing of the experience. Since the NPC had to converse with the audio dialogue, we had to give enough buffer time which also matched the pace of the NPC. The entire experience was trigger based and learning how to deal with dynamic pacing was very interesting.

Working with phidget sensors is quite challenging as they are not always reliable, and we needed to set up contingency plans for them. Since they use an analog system, the light and phidgets had to be timed carefully.

Working on this project was a lot of fun and I got to work on several aspects of creating an experience like this. This was our last project for the class and we used our previous lesson to make a complete, polished experience that everyone enjoyed.